Monthly Archives: December 2012

BAAM 2012: A Review of the Reviews

Hey there, Drinkers!

WordPress sends out this cute little stats aggregator at the end of each year and I just thought I’d share it with you. 2012 has been a hell of year, both personally and for BAAM. This blog is officially 19 months old with a total of nearly 80 posts! I can’t thank you enough for your support and continued readership. And while suggesting New Year’s resolutions to strangers is a bit tacky, here’s a list of ideas that I would advocate you try out in 2013.

1) Drink local
2) Buy a growler
3) Try a new beer on tap
4) See a new movie in theaters
5) See an old movie in theaters
6) Rewatch a childhood favorite
7) Read this blog
8) Share this blog
9) Do all of the above with friends

Thanks again and I hope you all have a safe and fun New Year’s Eve!

And as always, keep drinking, my friends!

Here’s an excerpt:

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 17,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 4 Film Festivals

Click here to see the complete report.

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Port Brewing’s Santa’s Little Helper Imperial Stout & The Nightmare Before Christmas

Hey there, Drinkers!

What’s this?! A nightmare after Christmas? Yes, it’s true. And in true Christmas fashion, I’m giving you a gift after the fact now that the crowds have died down at Target. Though, to be truthful, this review was supposed to be out earlier but life decided that the holidays would be a great time for me not feel so hot. But here we are! With Santa’s Little Helper in hand and The Nightmare Before Christmas on  my screen, we’ve lined up a holiday that will be hard to forget!

…unless you’re Jewish like me and always get confused between the concept of Christmas Eve with Christmas Day with Christmas Eve Day with Christmas Day Eve. It really is confusing…But let’s get started, shall we?

On tonight’s menu is the short-but-sweet 1993 film The Nightmare Before Christmas. And while most people  (albeit understandably) associate this super stop-motion film with Tim Burton, he is actually not the director. Yes he helped write and produce it, but frequent collaborator Henry Selick is actually credited as the director. Yes, Burton’s fingerprints all over this film but I thought it was an interesting distinction to make. But beyond that technicality, I’m just going to assume  that all of you have seen this movie. I mean, I’ve seen it like 50 times. And Jack Skellington, our protagonist, appears on so many angsty teenaged girls’ clothing and apparel that it’s hard not to be familiar with the film at least in an abstract or artistic sense. And while I still don’t really get why the film has become a fashion statement, I do get why this film is frickin’ awesome. Aside from the impressive technical foundation on which any stop-motion film stands, it’s also a musical! With the exception of maybe two songs, the musical component of this film, expertly crafted by the unparalleled Danny Elfman, is utterly engaging. It drives the plot forward, is playful and fully integrated into the core of the film. And, most importantly, the songs are incredibly catchy! Who knew that the simple phrase “this is Halloween” could play over and over in your head?

Let's all sing along with the living incarnation of Death!

Let’s all sing along with the living incarnation of Death!

All fandom aside, I should point out how utterly dark and creepy this film is. What kind of Halloween’s did Tim Burton experience as a child? These monsters are scary and really sadistic (as good monster are wont to do, I guess). I feel like if this Halloween were based on reality, everyone in Halloween Town would have just been really really slutty. But hey, it’s a movie. Let’s suspend our disbelief for a moment. But aside from the creep-factor, those same monsters do provide a clear perspective on how carefully this film was constructed. The individual detail and characterization of every creature is immaculate and fully-realized. What could have easily been a hammy and cliche Halloween village is instead a fully realized universe inhabited with a plethora of distinct characters . Few live-action movies get even that right, so to see it in a movie with no flesh-and-blood actors is truly remarkable and refreshing. Not to mention that Oogie-Boogie is one of the more entertaining bad guys you’ll find on the silver screen. For the none of you who have not seen this film, don’t wait until next Halloween or Christmas to give it a whirl. Watch it now! Remember, This Is Halloween!

Children welcome

Children welcome

And Santa’s Little Helper? Well, for starters, I think it’s an understatement to call a beer that boasts 10% ABV a “little helper.” This Imperial Stout from Port Brewing is one of the stronger beers I’ve reviewed here on BAAM and, to be honest, I’m still feeling it. The beer wasn’t boozy, mind you, it’s just that it’s a high ABV beer and I drank the whole bomber. By myself. Hurray for Thursday nights! But seriously, this imperial stout poured a classic deep, dark black with a rich chocolate-brown head. Instantly you’re hit with a strong nose of chocolate malt with hints of coffee. And that’s pretty much what it tastes like. In my experience, I find that most imperial stouts, while delicious and perfect for that chilly winter night, all have these same basic characteristics. What it comes down to for me with these beers is the body, the booziness and how it warms. In that regard, Santa’s Little Helper holds up pretty well. It’s got an unexpectedly medium-body without too much booziness. This meant that I had an easy drink that didn’t weigh me down or make me pucker up too much from the alcohol. And as it warmed, I found that these characteristics came out even more. In a sense, the warming smoothed it all out. Where the was a hint of booze right after I poured, once it reached room temperature that small bite mellowed out. Overall, this is a very good Imperial Stout. Perfect for sipping over a long period of time. So chuggers, find another beer!

So that’s it, folks. A holiday classic (that’s not an overstatement, is it?) paired with a very good, hearty winter beer. Not that The Nightmare Before Christmas needs a hand, but it was nice having Santa’s Little Helper at my side tonight. I think we’ll call this Christmas a win!

Tonight’s Tasting Notes:Santa's Little Helper from Port Brewing in a glass.
Port Brewing’s Santa’s Little Helper Imperial Stout:
-Lovely, dark pour
-Rich, chocolate head
-Medium-body & not too boozy

The Nightmare Before Christmas
-A nice change of pace from your other holiday films
-Beautifully realized, even if it is creepy
-Catchiest, darkest lyrics you’ll find

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Eel River’s Raven’s Eye Imperial Stout & The Fellowship of the Ring

Hey there, Drinkers!

In celebration of the release of The Hobbit, we’re taking a look back at the film that started it all while drinking a hearty beer worthy of even the dwarves of Middle Earth. Yes, tonight we’re watching The Fellowship of the Ring and sipping on a bomber of Eel River’s Raven’s Eye Imperial Stout. And as in any journey, we have a lot of ground to cover, so let’s get started!

It’s been awhile since I last saw The Fellowship of the Ring and I think I’ve been long overdue. Do you realize that this was released over ten years ago? HOLY CRAP! And that’s pretty much my sentiment for this film. HOLY CRAP! In the best of ways. I know that the entire trilogy was been widely praised and studied but when you step back from it all, it’s just great to take in a movie of such a high caliber. I’m largely skeptical of fantasy and science-fiction movies these days (though the genre is my all-time favorite). I find that films generally get themselves so wrapped up in their own “how cool is this?!” factor that they forget to tell a story. And while LOTR gives itself a generous three hours to help explain a massive universe and most of the plot of The Hobbit, it does give the characters space to breathe. Yes, the plot centers on an unlikely band of friends who have to carry a magic ring into a volcano, lest evil consume the world, but all of that is grounded in a fully-realized world populated by fully-realized characters. Sure, we don’t get a complete look at each character’s relationship with one another (that’s why there are three movies!), but we are treated to such a well-crafted foundation that we don’t mind the leaps in character and story that we are asked to make.

Definitely BFF's. But at least we get why!

Definitely BFF’s. But at least we get why!

My only real complaint is that our sense of temporal relationship is very loose. What do I mean by that? Time, in terms of days and weeks, is very loose and can be a bit confusing (if you’re looking for it). Example? In the few days (?) it takes Frodo n’ Company to reach the village of Bree, Saruman manages to create a massive war-machine and army. It just seems a bit sudden. And why does Gimli think his cousin is still alive when Gandalf clearly knows that everyone is dead. Not to mention the decayed corpses. Clearly this was nothing recent. Sorry, I’m nerding out a bit hard. But since we’re on the subject, the only other non-complain I have is why  is Aragon able to fend off the Nazgul on Weathertop? Why are they afraid of fire and swords? It doesn’t really make sense. They’re like ghostly-zombie super soldiers. Then again, I also don’t really care because they’re badass. Needless to say,  this movie is damn good.  The visuals are stunning. The production design is immaculate. The acting is heartfelt and the dialogue is engaging despite the unfamiliar syntax. Simply put: it all just works. Peter Jackson knows how to make a f’ing movie.

I'm glad you could make it here on such short notice!

I’m glad you could make it here on such short notice!

And did our beer stand up to the fires of Mount Doom?! I think so! (Nerd fact: the amazing fantasy series The Wheel of Time also has a Mountain of Dhoom! The “H” is intentional). This California Imperial Stout is no joke. Brewed by Eel River, which claims to be the nation’s first certified organic brewery (do I really care?), Raven’s Eye pours a deep black with an almost coppery-chocolate head. While there’s a bit of carbonation, the drink itself is surprisingly smooth. With a hearty malt backbone, there is almost no booziness to taste despite the 9.5% ABV that, to be perfectly honest, has got me a bit tipz. With just a hint of sweet vanilla for an added bit of complexity, Raven’s Eye ends up being a very solid Imperial Stout. While it does little to “blow your mind,” it does a great job of just being a solid stout that warms your bones. Which, in my opinion, is all you need when you’re curled up with some LOTR.

So that’s it folks. My feelings on the night? 1) It’s far too long since I’ve seen this film. 2) Eel River’s Raven’s Eye Imperial Stout is definitely a “buy-again beer” 3) I really want to watch the other two LOTR movies but I don’t have the 9 hours to spare. But in all seriousness, this was a great evening. A hearty, slow-sipping beer with a long and beautiful fantasy epic. Definitely a combination I’d recommend. What an unexpected journey!

…see what I did there?

Oh and you’re probably wondering what in Gandalf’s name the connection is for tonight’s pairing. Well, if you remember, the Dark Lord has many spies. Including ravens…that’s it.

Tonight’s Tasting Notes:eel-river-ravens-eye-imperial-stout
Eel River’s Raven’s Eye Imperial Stout:
-Deep, black pour with chocolatey head
-Decent amount of carbonation
-Malty & high in ABV without the booziness

The Fellowship of the Ring:
-Beautiful in almost every cinematic way
-Sense of time is a bit wishy-washy
-MUST.WATCH.MORE.LOTR!

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Stone’s Vertical Epic 12.12.12 & 2012

Good tidings, Drinkers!

In honor of 12/12/12, Anne from We Recycle Movies and I celebrated the only way we know how: drinking great beer while mocking a movie we’re barely watching. Great premise, right? And since the date was too significant to be subtle with our pairing, we chose Stone’s final Vertical Epic and the tidal wave of cinematic crap that is Roland Emmerich’s 2012. So let’s get crackin’!  (that’s a joke about 2012…because the planet’s crust cracks a lot and earthquakes happen…I’m funny, I promise)

But where to begin with 2012? How about 2009? Sure, why not. That’s when SCIENCE determeined the Earth was going to blow up or melt or split apart or whatever. Briefly, 2012 charts the Earth’s Mayan-fortold demise as told through the eyes of a bunch of random people we never really care about. I think the planet’s core is melting because the planets are aligned and thus the Earth’s crust is thinning and shit gets real…I think. To be fair, Anne and I were loudly ignoring this film and instead mostly talking about the new trailer for Pacific Rim (which I contend looks like a shiny version of Godzilla vs. Voltron). We also talked a lot about Zoe Saldana who, we later realized, was not in this movie. We’re not racists but in our defense, Thandie Newton really looks like Zoe Saldana. But I digress. 2012 has all the elements of a “good” disaster movie, such as explosions, famous landmarks being destroyed, conspiracy theorists, black actors, giant boats…. You know, the usual. However, I think Roland Emmerich got so caught up in his own delusions of Earth’s grand demise that he forgot to make the rest of the movie.

Rut roh!

Rut roh!

But to be serious for just a (brief) moment, I think the major failing of this movie is really its characters. I didn’t really relate to any of them or find them interesting. They felt more like characters I was supposed to like, not characters I actually liked. It’s an assumption that can really just hollow out a movie’s emotional core. Fortunately, the movie had plenty o’ splosions and other natural atrocities to compensate for my boredom. But even then, the over-the-top destruction of the planet is also distancing. I couldn’t connect. There are only a handful of moments when the destruction resonates on a personal level, making the “we survived!” conclusion even less compelling. Finally, as noble as Roland Emmerich’s “Africa-is-the-birthplace-of-humanity” overtones are, it’s so obnoxiously blatant that you can’t help but laugh. Well…continue to laugh, since I pretty much laughed at this whole movie.

The...drama?

Who needs human drama when you have SUPER VOLCANOES?!

Good thing we each had bombers of 9% ABV Vertical Epic to get us through the night! The last of the series, the 12.12.12 Vertical Epic does feel like a pinnacle of beer. It pours a deep, dark brown with a lovely mocha-colored head. While Stone’s label rattles off a host of spices brewed with this Belgian-inspired ale, the most distinctive notes I tasted were chocolate malt, all-spice and cinnamon. That last one really came out as the beer warmed, transforming the beer into something completely new by the end of the bottle. And although the beer was dark and strong (what other kind of beer does Stone brew?), I have to say that it’s remarkablely accessible. The beer was easy to drink, not too bitter and not too filling either. Sure, it’ll get you buzzed, but you won’t really notice the booze unless you’re drinking on an empty stomach (which we were….woops!).

Overall, I’m really glad I got to taste the final Vertical Epic. Sadly, I’ve missed the previous Vertical Epics but I don’t doubt that Stone has plenty of good beer planned for us in the years to come. Or days, if the Mayan calendar (or Roland Emmerich) is correct. Either way, you better make sure that you’re friends with a pilot. Or John Cusack. Either will do.

Thanks for reading and as always keep drinking, my friends.

Tonight’s Tasting Notes:VE
Stone’s Vertical Epic 12.12.12:
-Deep, rich brown color
-Chocolate malt, cinnanom & all-spice
-Changes, and improves, as it warms

2012:
International cooperation! Form of: BIG BOAT!
-Hollow characters
-Roland Emmerich successfully destroys the world the for…3rd time?

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Ballast Point’s Indra Kunindra & Sita Sings the Blues

Hey there, Drinkers!

Tonight we’re getting cultured with the crowd-funded animated film Sita Sings the Blues while sipping on a delightfully unusual Indra Kunindra. Since there’s a lot to talk about, let’s just dive right in, shall we?

First off, I can take no credit for choosing tonight’s film. My dear friend Anne over at We Recycle Movies suggested I check this film so all the credit goes to her and her expansive mental library of movies. Secondly, this is not a film that people have heard of it. As far as I know, it had almost no theatrical distribution and has probably made zero money. A big reason why that’s the case is because Nina Paley, the filmmaker who pretty much did everything on this project, released the film for free under the Creative Commons. You can actually watch it right now here. And I’d recommend doing so. Once you get past the first few weird minutes, you’ll find yourself deeply in love with this insightful, heartfelt and funny semi-historical film. As a frame of reference, the film is divided into three different animation styles, each of which is responsible for a portion of the narrative. One tells a breakup story of the filmmaker. Another is an interesting history lesson in the Indian story the Ramayan, as narrated by three hilarious shadow puppets. The third informs the previous two through musical acts set the beautiful music of 20’s blues singer Annette Hanshaw. As disparate as they are, the three stories and visual styles all blend together beautifully. The visual imagination of Nina Paley, combined with some fantastic storytelling and some truly wonderful music creates a movie-watching experience that is simply a delight.

A good cross-section of this film's artistic style

A good cross-section of this film’s artistic style

What I think I liked most about this film was its playfulness. What could have easily been an esoteric history lesson is transformed into something fun, understandable and relatable. Our shadow puppet narrators navigate their way through the story’s inconsistencies for us and turn our questions into humor. And it’s so effortless! On top of this, there’s even a three minute intermission just when your brain needs a micro-break from the oddity that is this film. Finally, it’s great to know that this film was crowd-funded. In both the opening titles and closing credits, the filmmaker goes out of her way to thank everyone involved in making this project come to life. And as someone who contributed nothing to this project, it feels great!

Sita being all pure n' stuff

Sita being all pure n’ stuff

And the Indra Kunindra? Well, as it turns out, I clearly can’t stay away from Ballast Point Brewing Company since this is my second in a row here on BAAM. But I really do love this brewery and this beer is a major factor in that. The beer’s label classifies this brew as a “India-style export stout” which I guess explains it but fails to fully encompass what it really going on in this beer. So let me break it down for you. Take an export stout (i.e. a stout that is super dark, malty and high in ABV) and throw in a host of spices. I’m talking curry, coconut, cayenne, cumin and so many more. It’s kinda crazy. The beer is still super smooth but it has this tiny kick. You so clearly get the curry and cayenne but they never overpower that solid, chocolately malt backbone. It’s quite impressive. And you don’t even realize that this beer is 7%! Bonus! To put it in perspective; this is only the second time I’ve had this beer and it easily ranks up in my top three favorite beers. It’s so good that I’ve even written about in previous posts from about a year ago. And the impression that it made!  Anyway, If you see an Indra Kunindra at your local beer shop, I demand you buy. DEMAND!

So there you have it, folks. One of our more legit, classy BAAM combos. We had an accessible art film with an accesible crazy-spicy stout. I truly enjoyed this pairing and I recommend to everyone to check out both of these bad boys. Whether together or separate, they’re sure to put a smile on your face.

And as always keep drinking, my friends!

Tonight’s Tasting Notes:image[3]
Ballast Point’s Indra Kunindra:
-Rich, malty stout backbone
-Complex, layered spicy flavor
-Surprisingly easy-to-drink

Sita Sings the Blues:
-Beautiful animation
-Fantastic music. Perfectly integrated.
-Crowd-source FTW!

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